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Having been ostracized from the bunkhouse and limited in his participation with the other workers, Crooks, the sole black man on the ranch, is at first on the defensive when Lennie enters the barn. For,
He kept his distance and demanded that other people keep theirs.
When Lennie enters, therefore, Crooks bristles and tells the big man to get out of his room. However, the child-like Lennie expresses his loneliness; so, realizing the naivete of Lennie, Crooks allows him to stay and teases him about George's having abandoned him, but Lennie grows angry, so he stops. During this time, also, Lennie has talked about owning rabbits and a farm; however, Crooks ridicules him, saying that he has heard many a bindle stiff speak in this way, but "it's jus' in their head."
Just then Candy comes into the barn and as he approaches, Candy speaks to Lennie, explaining that he has been "figuring out about them rabbits." Crooks interrupts them, "brutally" mocking their dream. But, Candy swears that they will do it because they have the money "right now." Candy will not be discouraged and exclaims that everybody wants something that is truly his, not someone else's.
But we gonna do it now, and don't make no mistake about that....That money's in the bank....
Crooks asked, "You say you got the money?"
This is the first time Crooks has heard anyone say he has money for his dream. As he considers the reality of Candy, George, and Lennie's dream, Crooks asks hesitantly,
"...If you...guys would want a hand to work for nothing--just his keep, why I'd come an' lend a hand..."
Apparently, the mention of money makes the dream seem possible for Crooks.
Within a few pages in Chapter Four, Crooks changes his mind twice. When he understands that George, Lennie and Candy actually have the money to buy a farm, he tells Candy:
". .. . If you . . . guys would want a hand to work for nothing--just his keep, why I'd come an' lend a hand. I ain't so crippled I can't work like a son-of-a-bitch if I want to."
Just then Curley's wife intrudes and starts causing trouble, even threatening to have Crooks lynched. Although this is Crooks's private room, the others treat it like a public meeting place, totally disregarding the minimal rights he claims to privacy. Then Curley and a bunch of the workmen come back from town and Curley's wife has to flee. Then George enters Crooks's room and chases Lennie and Candy out, mainly because he doesn't want them discussing the plans for buying the farm. Before Candy leaves, Crooks calls him back and says:
"'Member what I said about hoein' and doin' odd jobs?. . . . Well, jus' forget it. Jus' foolin'. I wouldn' want to go no place like that."
Crooks has seen all the trouble that people cause each other when they get together, and he has decided that he wants no part of it. He would rather endure his lonely existence and have a certain amount of peace, privacy, and security. He is wise enough to foresee that the farm shared by three men could become a chaotic place because George could not manage the operation effectively--or else he might get tired of the responsibility.
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